More than half of all reported sexual assaults occur against persons aged 12 to 24. Middle school, high school, and college-aged victims of sexual assault often do not report the crime to law enforcement. Instead, they turn to their schools as institutions of trust in order to seek accommodations or obtain justice through the institution’s disciplinary process.
Unfortunately, however, these schools, institutions, and colleges too often fail to adequately address campus sexual violence: through inadequate policies, preferential treatment of certain perpetrators (such as school athletes or members of high-profile fraternities), or refusal to follow mandated procedures.
Schools – including private and public high schools, colleges, and universities – are required to comply with federal and state laws regarding the school’s response to sexual violence, including Title IX (conferring the right of gender equity in education opportunities), FERPA (providing confidentiality of student education records), and the Clery Act (reporting crime rates on campus). Many students and academic administrators are unaware of the extent and scope of the protections these laws provide.
Title IX, in particular, affords victims of campus sexual assault and rape with a number of unique protections. Under Title IX, when a college or university receiving federal funding learns of a hostile environment, that college or university must act to eliminate the mistreatment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.
When colleges and universities fail to follow Title IX’s mandate, the victim may file a complaint with the Department of Education and/or file a civil lawsuit for damages.
Title IX provides the following rights to persons enrolled in or employed at educational institutions:
- The right to access benefits of education without gender-based or sexual discrimination, including sexual violence; domestic violence; dating violence; and stalking;
- The right to be free from sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, or other sexual harassment while enrolled in or employed at an educational institution;
- The right to choose whether or not to report or disclose the incident of sexual violence to law enforcement or campus administrators;
- The right to report sexual violence committed by a fellow student or campus employee, regardless of whether the assault occurred on or off campus;
- The right to ask for safety measures to be put in place by the school once you have reported or disclosed the abuse to the school;
- The right to report any retaliation that is a result of the abuse you suffered or your report to the school;
- The right to be notified of existing counseling, mental health or other student services for victims of sexual assault, regardless of whether or not you file an informal or formal disciplinary complaint;
- The right to choose whether or not to institute a formal or informal grievance complaint through the institution’s disciplinary process;
- The right to file a complaint with the Department of Education for suspected violations of Title IX;
- The right to file a civil suit against the perpetrator for the abuse;
- The right to file a civil suit against the school for mishandling your report of abuse, discouraging a report of abuse, contributing to the abuse, or engaging in retaliation as a result of the abuse;
- And more.
Here at Crew Janci LLP, we help victims navigate this process and identify the ways in which they may seek compensation for the harm they’ve suffered, prevent future harassment, hold institutions accountable, and help sexual assault victims on campus fully utilize the legal remedies to which they are entitled. If you or someone you love has been a victim of campus sexual violence, contact our offices today.